Charter Sues SW Bell Over Campaign8/29/2001 3:01 AM Eastern
Charter Communications Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit against Southwestern
Bell Telephone Co. in an effort to stop a 'false' advertising campaign alleging
that cable-modem service slows at peak-usage times.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Missouri, comes only after Charter
senior vice president and general counsel Curt Shaw wrote a letter to SW Bell
parent SBC Communications Inc. chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. The cable
operator asked SW Bell to stop its 'Cable Modem Slowdown' advertising
SBC spokesman Selim Bingol said the telco has not received the suit yet and,
therefore, it can't comment specifically. But, he added, cable networks are
indeed shared, and they can slow during peak usage.
'The larger point beyond this dispute is that cable is an unregulated
monopoly and it controls 70 percent of the broadband universe without
oversight,' Bingol said. Cable controls the message to consumers, and it often
refuses to carry SBC's digital-subscriber-line ads. The slowdown advertising is
an effort to inform consumers, he added.
Charter believes 'competition is in the consumer's best interest, and we have
an obligation to be honest with the consumer. Apparently, Southwestern Bell
doesn't feel it has the same obligation,' Shaw said in a prepared statement.
The suit alleged that SW Bell violates the federal Lanham Act, governing
truth in advertising, as well as Missouri state law.